The CVT Is DEAD – Or Is It? No You’re Wrong! Ep. 4

Is the CVT dying out?

Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs) are fairly straightforward when compared to modern automatic or manual transmissions. They have fewer moving parts. It’s a fairly simple layout: A belt or chain wraps around cones, pulleys or spools the change shape as you add more power. One set of cones provides power from the engine, the other set sends power to the wheels. Ratios change based on the power that’s provided and the amount of resistance.

The CVT Is DEAD - It Just Doesn't Know It Yet: No You're Wrong! Ep. 4
The Nissan Pathfinder is one of the larger vehicles equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
(Photo: Nissan)

Aside from hybrids, CVT-based vehicles are some of the most efficient on the market. Japanese automakers have embraced this technology. Nissan and Honda use CVTs in a majority of their passenger cars. Based on their simplicity, excellent efficiency and cost-effective production, a vast majority of Asian vehicles have a CVT.

The good

Check out the 2020 Hyundai Accent gets 41 mpg thanks to a CVT.

That doesn’t mean they are fun, exciting or (in some cases) reliable. Automobiles equipped with CVTs tend to be slow. In many cases, crossovers that venture off-road have power issues when equipped with continuously variable transmissions . CVTs limit power sent to the wheels to prevent internal damage. However, the down side with that is you don’t always have the power when you need it. We’ve seen this in many CVT-equipped vehicles off-road.

2018 Hyundai Accent Limited
The 2020 Hyundai Accent [Photo: Hyundai]

The bad

Check out the recall of Toyota Corolla Hatchback CVT.

CVTs tend to dull the performance of powerful vehicles. Ae excellent example is the Nissan Maxima. It has over 300 horsepower and an excellent suspension setup; yet, it’s slow and uninspiring to drive compared to similar vehicles with automatic/twin-clutch/manual transmission options.

There are pro-and-con arguments on both sides and we opted to make a video spotlighting the CVT with our own opinions. When I say, “our” I mean Roman and Nathan, two completely different ends of the TFLcar spectrum.

The question truly is: are CVT’s about to go away? What do you think?